Sharjah Art Foundation to present South Asian pop art as part of autumn programme

The cultural centre has announced a busy calendar of exhibitions and events, alongside photography awards and film screenings

'Dreams on Wheels' (2013) by Ustad Abdullah will be on show in Pop South Asia. Photo: Sharjah Art Foundation
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A major group exhibition exploring South Asian pop art is one of the highlights of Sharjah Art Foundation’s autumn programme.

Running from September 2 until December 11, Pop South Asia will bring together more than 100 works by artists from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the South Asian diaspora. The works encompass paintings, prints, videos and installations from the mid-20th century to today.

The exhibition will move across multiple themes, spanning religious and folk practices to cinema and digital media. It aims to expand the conventional understanding of pop art beyond the Western perspective and explores the nuances of the popular movement in South Asia.

Pop South Asia is curated by Iftikhar Dadi, an artist and professor at Cornell University, New York, and Roobina Karode, director and chief curator at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi.

It will mark its premiere at the foundation before travelling the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, which helped to organise it.

Watch and Chill 2.0: Streaming Senses

Another feature of the foundation's autumn season is Watch and Chill 2.0: Streaming Senses.

The subscription-based streaming platform is organised by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea in partnership with the Sharjah foundation and ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design.

Streaming Senses includes 22 artworks from these three institutions. The works respond to the relationship between technology and human perception, venturing beyond the screen to evoke various forms of synaesthesia. Six of the exhibited artworks were selected by the Sharjah foundation.

The presentation speaks to what "sensing" might mean in the digital era through four sub-themes: Optical Tactility, Calibrated Projection, Trance, Cross, Move and Bits of the Spirit. The works began streaming on the Watch and Chill website on June 10, with subtitles in Korean, English and Arabic. A new work will be released each week until the project wraps on December 31.

The platform is also augmented with in-person programmes running in each of the participating institutions. The foundation's on-site presentation will be running from September 2 to December 11. It will feature screenings of video works from the foundation’s collection.

This exhibition is curated by Jihoi Lee, curator of architecture, installation and sculpture at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; Hoor Al Qasimi, director of the Sharjah foundation; and James Taylor-Foster, curator of contemporary architecture and design at ArkDes.

Annual initiatives

Several annual initiatives by the foundation are also planned for the autumn season.

These include the 10th iteration of Vantage Point Sharjah.

The annual photography open call invites all forms and approaches — from photojournalism to intimate photo essays, film to digital and experimental photography. This year, the initiative is calling for works celebrating photography’s ability to perceive social realities through different perspectives. Application details are available on the foundation's website.

The open call will culminate in a group exhibition, which will be running from September 16 to December 11, as well as the presentation of the juried Vantage Point Awards.

The Sharjah Film Platform will also be returning with a wider spectrum of films than previous iterations, having received a whopping 3,000 submissions this year. The annual film festival will be running from October 21 to 30 and will screen short and feature-length films with awards granted by a panel of jurors at the end of the festival.

The Focal Point Art Book Fair will also take place later this year.

The annual event showcases a selection of printed material by artist presses, bookmakers, self-publishers and other non-commercial cultural producers who experiment with the medium of publishing. Hosted in the heritage house of Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, the fair includes talks, book launches, artists’ signings, workshops, music and artist-made products. The fair places a special focus on UAE-based publishers and functions as a critical space for knowledge sharing and community building.

It will be running from November 25 to November 27.

In the lead-up to the event, the foundation has launched two open calls: one for the annual publishing grant, which has a September 2 application deadline, and another for the fourth edition of its comic anthology, Corniche, which closed on June 30. Winners of the publishing grant will be announced during the fair. The winners of Corniche, meanwhile, will have their work compiled into a publication that will launch at Focal Point.

International exhibitions

The foundation is also collaborating with several notable institutions on international exhibitions, many of which build upon previous initiatives and shows.

The foundation is working with Serpentine Gallery in London for a solo exhibition of pioneering Sudanese artist Kamala Ibrahim Ishag. The exhibition expands on the artist’s first major retrospective organised by Sharjah Art Foundation in 2016.

The exhibition will feature new paintings created in Ishag’s Khartoum studio, which will be displayed alongside works dating back to the 1960s. Alongside large-scale canvases and works on paper, the exhibition includes Ishag’s paintings on different surfaces such as calabashes, screens and leather drums.

In the Heart of Another Country, meanwhile, will explore the concept of home — of longing and belonging by artists who hail from multiple diasporas. The exhibition is organised with Deichtorhallen Hamburg and will be showing at the venue from October 28 to March 12, 2023.

In the Heart of Another Country showcases the work of more than 60 artists in more than 140 artworks. The exhibition explores the ways physical movement has shaped and contoured the frame of global art today.

Hrair Sarkissian’s first mid-career survey The Other Side of Silence, which made its debut at the foundation last year, will be travelling to Bonnefanten in the Netherlands.

The exhibition Last Seen presents the premiere of a major two-channel film commission entitled Sweet and Sour. The large-scale photographs of Syrian-Armenian artist Sarkissian are developed using a large format camera — a lifelong practice first developed in his father’s photo studio in Damascus.

Acting simultaneously as an archaeologist and storyteller, Sarkissian’s works in photography, sound, film and installation conjure landscapes that uncover hidden histories which are often concealed from official records.

Updated: July 19, 2022, 2:14 PM